Plato’s Cave

In Plato’s “Republic,” Socrates tells the famous allegory of the cave. As I have discussions with Americans about Islam and the Arab World, I find that most Americans are like the prisoners in the cave looking at shadows. They have strong opinions and beliefs, but they see only shadows. They are sure these are the reality, because they know nothing different. If only they could be released from their chains, and go outside the cave, and see the reality, they would think of things differently. But I’m finding out what every other American who has traveled has discovered–those who are still shackled in ignorance can’t grasp what you are saying. It is meaningless to them. They are sure of the reality that they believe. It is all they know. They can’t conceive of anything else, and the words of one who has seen another world are like the utterings of a madman to them.